March 22nd, 2018

Heavy Head clears air about calling city racist

By Schnarr, J.W. on October 12, 2017.

J.W. Schnarr

Lethbridge Herald

Mayoral candidate Martin Heavy Head has clarified statements made to a national media organization where he suggested Lethbridge could be the most racist city in Canada, stating he was using humour to highlight a serious issue.

Heavy Head has been highlighting the need for discussion on racism in Lethbridge.

On Oct. 2, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network ran a story featuring three Indigenous candidates running for office in Alberta. Heavy Head was one of the candidates profiled.

He spoke about the importance of being visible to First Nations people in the election, to show them that they are a part of the process the same as everyone else.

He also spoke of a “sharp divide” between Lethbridge residents and people living on reserves, and that many residents only know about the homeless issues faced by some FN people.

He then called out Lethbridge on its racism.

“Winnipeg is often labelled as the most racist city in Canada, but I said, ‘You know? They haven’t been to Lethbridge. I think we could win this if they really spent time here,'” he said.

Heavy Head clarified the statement by email, saying he was using humour to deal with the issue.

“Well, it is a rather silly thing to say, I haven’t been to every city in Canada,” he stated.

“I made the comment in jest, wherein humour is often the only refuge to cope with the horrifying daily experiences that racism inflicts upon everyone.”

He further noted there is an issue with the normalization of racism in Lethbridge, to the point that minorities “are often silenced and marginalized further for speaking out against racism.”

“Racism is intractable and non-quantifiable, so to say that any city in Canada is ‘the’ most racist city in Canada is ridiculous,” he stated.

“However; that does not mean that Lethbridge is a non-racist utopia. There does indeed exist toxic and systemic racism within this city, which is one of the reasons why I’m running.

“To confront and cure that toxicity.”

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